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Finding a New Calling in Aging

Like every living organism, the psyche expands and differentiates as it is structured and meant to do. Spontaneous personality growth happens at every age following a natural cycle through the seasons of life. There are fertile and fallow times, times to sew and times to reap, and special kinds of growth in each season. Some skills fade, new ones grow, ideas change, and goals evolve.
But it's more than that. We come into the world bearing gifts and our work is to understand, support and express these gifts for the good of all. Our hunger for personal growth stirs the psyche to express these inborn possibilities. In touch with the inner self, our gifts rise and take form spontaneously, for they are part of the ultimate gift of self. Remember the old saying, "Who you are is God's gift to you; what you do with it is your gift to God." Or, in the more serious words of Jesus, "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." We need to keep growing; we need to express our gifts. It is an imperative of life in every season.
Sadly, as Jesus' words imply, we can also turn against the self. When we betray our inner call with demands from the ego or society, we violate this essential lawfulness of the psyche, harming our growth and often causing deep pain. An angry shadow side develops and may eventually take down the false self. Yet even when times are hard, there is a path through suffering that is our own and we must follow wherever it leads even when others disagree. The poet William Stafford calls this The Way It Is. He explains,

There’s a thread you follow. It goes among
things that change. But it doesn’t change.

While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.

Aging is a time for picking up that thread to harvest and share new gifts with those around us. In this final season, we have a chance to open our hearts, do what we love, and fulfill our part in the larger unfolding of the universe. Recovering the thread we dropped in earlier years reconnects us to our unique passion, purpose and place of this great cosmic symphony.
I have been following just such a thread my whole life. For me, it has been the journey into mystical consciousness, a consciousness that reveals all life to be sacred – not as a metaphor but as a lived and witnessed reality. Looking back, I realize this has always been my calling, through psychology, psychotherapy, teaching, writing and seminary. It is the call of ultimate questions, deep love, and the mystic's longing for the sacred. So when a medical crisis brought my professional life to an abrupt end ten years ago, I knew it was time to pick up my thread in earnest again, for I had wandered too far afield. I returned to school for a Doctor of Ministry in interfaith spirituality and to an interfaith seminary for ordination. And I discovered (again) that when you choose your own path, it will choose you, and then a brand new life begins.
My commitment now is not to a career but to a time of life with its unique consciousness and tasks, which for me include the awakening of unconditional love for family, friends and the world itself, exploring the spirituality of aging, and living in a mystical consciousness that reveals the world to be sacred, meaningful, and infinitely precious.
What is your calling thread? Go back and find it - it's been running through your life all along. You find it in the things you love, the great joys of life, and in the desire to make a difference. Find your thread and let's build a new and more loving world together.

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